A Step-By-Step Guide to Automating a Complex Funnel Visualisation:
Attempting to automate a complex funnel visualisation in Data Studio can be difficult when you have multiple pages or events at certain steps in the user journey. Most experts suggest creating a goal in Google Analytics for each step in the journey. This is no help as goals don’t allow for multiple options for a single step in the journey.
In a previous post I suggested creating a complex funnel visualisation using individual bar charts for each step in the journey. This looks great when you first create it for a specific time period and it does automate the calculation of the micro conversions. However, when the data changes to reflect a new time frame some of the bar charts become too large and the funnel loses its shape. You can manually adjust the sizes of the bars, but this can be a pain if you want to fully automate the report.
Automating a complex funnel visualisation:
To fully automate the funnel visualisation report and to retain the funnel shape for any time frame I have adjusted my approach by removing the need for bar charts. For this approach we will only use the Scorecard chart. This means we can fix the size of each step in the funnel and there is no need to adjust any of the steps when a new data set is employed.
1. Create a Custom Segment for each Step in the Funnel:
Go to your Google Analytics reporting view and set up a new customer segment for each step in the journey. Use the ‘Sequences’ tab as shown below to define each step using a page path or the relevant events. When you have more than a single page or event for individual steps in the funnel use ‘OR’ to configure the step in full.
It can take a number of hours for a new customer segment to become available in Data Studio. For this reason I recommend you plan to create all your customer segments the day before you want to create your complex funnel visualisation. One advantage of using customer segments is that they work retrospectively and so unlike goals you can analyse data from before you created them. Google Analytics goals only begin to collect data once they have been set up.
2. Create the First Step in the Funnel:
Now login to Data Studio and use an existing report to copy the template format you wish to use. Don’t forget to edit the data source to the correct view and change the title and headings. I like to display a few relevant Scorecard charts at the top of each page to support the funnel visualisation.
To create the first step select ‘Add a chart’ and choose the ‘Scorecard’ or ‘Scorecard with compact numbers’ depending upon how much traffic your site receives. In the ‘DATA’ tab select on the right select ‘Google Analytics segment’ and search for your first step in the funnel. Also go to the ‘Comparison date range’ and select ‘Previous period’ or whatever option you prefer.
Now click on the ‘STYLE’ tab on the right and go down to where you can justify the name, value and comparison text on the Scorecard. Click on the ‘Centre’ option for all three. Just below this you will see the ‘Background and border’ and select ‘Backgound’. Choose an appropriate background colour for your funnel steps.
Now that you have your Scorecard settings configured it’s just a matter of clicking and dragging to adjust the shape to look like a single bar of a chart. You may also want to edit the ‘Metrics’ label to something more suitable, such as the event or ‘Step 1’.
3. Create the second step of the complex funnel visualisation:
Copy and paste the first step in your funnel. Position it just below the first step and the go to the ‘DATA’ tab to change the ‘Google Analytics Segment’ to your second step. You will then need to adjust the length of the Scorecard chart to reflect the relative number of your metric (i.e. sessions, pageview, events or users) for step 2. Then edit the ‘Metric’ label to be consistent with step 1.
4.Replicate for eachstep of the funnel visualisation:
You should now keep replicating each step in your funnel visualisation. Go through the previous instructions until you have created a Scorecard chart for every step in your funnel visualisation. You can use longer labels for each step if you prefer as you don’t have to display labels when you create the Scorecards for the percentage proceeding to the next step.
5. Blend data for percentage proceeding to next step:
Now use a text box to provide a suitable heading for the conversion rate for each step in your complex funnel visualisation. I’ve used ‘Percentage proceeding to next step’ in my example. To generate the automated calculation for the first step select the Scorecard for step 2 and then select the Scorecard for Step 1 by holding down the ‘Shift’ or ‘Fn lock’ key.
If you then right click a menu will open and select the ‘Blend data’ option. This will divide Step 2 by Step 1 and give you the result as a percentage. Open the ‘STYLE’ tab on the right and change the ‘Decimal precision’ to change it to ‘0’ or your preferred option. You may also need to change the font size for the label (the default is 28px) and the background colour to something less distracting.
When you get to the final step of your funnel select the Scorecard for that step and then use the ‘Fn lock’ to simultaneously select the first step. You can then right click to ‘Blend data’ to calculate the overall conversion rate of your funnel. Add a suitable text box heading for your overall conversion rate.
6. Refresh and Align:
Now refresh your page to check all your changes are properly saved. On one occasion, when I went through the process of blending data to calculate the conversion rate for each step, I discovered on refreshing the page all the Scorecards for the individual steps had changed to a white background (except for the first step). It didn’t take long to rectify, but I was slightly surprised by this bug.
If you select all the conversion rate Scorecards you can right click to align them to how you want to display them on the page. Similarly, if you select all the Scorecard steps you can distribute them vertically by using the ‘Arrange’ menu.
7. Open Funnel Conversion Rate:
This is a closed funnel and so I often also add the conversion rate for an open funnel as a comparison. You can do this by creating a new Scorecard for your first step and simply set a filter to equal your first page or event in the journey. Don’t apply a segment which might include a sequence of steps.
Do the same for your last step, or other important steps (e.g. your payment page) and then use the ‘Blend data’ functionality to calculate your open funnel conversion rates. You will normally find many more sessions or users complete the funnel and it is likely to have a different conversion rate.
8. You are there!
Congratulations, you have now created an automated complex funnel visualisation in Data Studio and you won’t need to adjust the size of individual bars to maintain the funnel shape. One limitation of this approach is that users won’t be able to hover over the bars to see how many sessions or users experienced the variants at steps where there are multiple pages or events.
However, to display such variants you could create mini Scorecards for each page or event adjacent to the overall funnel step. It probably depends on how many steps you have and how much information you want to display on a single page. Personally, I prefer to use this as a summary funnel and will create other pages in the report to show details of the alternative user journeys.
Remember the aim here is to automate a complex funnel visualisation in Data Studio. Google Analytics goals are of limited use when they don’t allow you to use ‘OR’ statements to define a sequence in your funnel visualisation.
Plan your funnel visualisation by allowing time to create a separate customer segment in Google Analytics for each step in the user journey. To avoid having to wait for these to become available in Data Studio I recommend you create these at least 24 hours before you need to apply them to your funnel.
Use individual Scorecards by adjusting the size and background colour to create each step in the user journey. Apply your newly set up customer segments to display the correct sessions or pageviews for each step.
Use the blended data functionality to calculate and display the conversion rate for each step in the funnel. Blend the data from the last step and the first step to calculate the overall conversion rate.
Refresh and adjust your report to make it look ultra professional. Make use of the ‘Arrange’ menu to align and distribute the different elements of your report. Add some KPIs to the top of the report to support the data in the complex funnel visualisation.
Keep this page of your report as a summary of the overall funnel. Create other pages in the report to drill down into the alternative user journeys.
I hope you found this method of building a complex funnel visualisation useful. Please leave a comment or feedback below.
- About the author: Neal provides web analytics and CRO consultancy services and has worked in many sectors including financial services, online gaming and retail. He has helped brands such Hastings Direct, Manchester Airport Group Online and Assurant Ltd to improve their digital marketing measurement and performance.
- Neal has had articles published on website optimisation on CXL and Usabilla.com. As an ex-market research and insight manager he also had posts published on the GreenBook Blog research website. If you wish to contact us please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Twitter @conversionupl, see Neal’s LinkedIn profile or connect on Facebook.